The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has renewed its calls for a president of South-East extraction in 2023, stressing that Southerners have for long been treated as second-class citizens in the country.
Speaking during an interview on Arise TV on Tuesday, the leader of the forum, Edwin Clark, condemned the maltreatment suffered by the South-East region as a result of the monopoly of leadership by the North.
He noted that any Nigerian averse to South-East presidency in 2023 was hypocritical, and poised to see the end of the country soonest.
The elder statesman, therefore, appealed that the electoral decison in 2023 must be in recognition of the unity and development of Nigeria as a diverse country.
“My idea of zoning the Presidency to the South-East is well-known. No Nigerian will like to live in country where certain people believe that they have the only right to lead. The APC believes the 12 million votes by President Muhammadu Buhari might be eroded if it is zoned to the South. The PDP is also considering zoning to the North. This is unfair.
“Nigeria stood on three legs, and it has never been steady since one of the legs was destroyed during the Civil War. I unpacked all these facts in my forthcoming memoir ‘Brutally Frank’.”
He added that there is no moral justification for keeping people who are not being treated fairly, stressing that the region must be treated with a sense of belonging.
“Gowon should have allowed the Igbos to go, if they are to be treated as second class citizens. If zoning which will heal the wounds is not done, there will be no Nigeria. Nobody will remain in this country as a second class citizen.
“The North believes their population can be used to oppress other Nigerians. This is not acceptable. The era of that has gone. There are many good Northerners but the Fulani-oriented ones want to dominate everywhere.
Clark adjudged the claim that the South East has no competent person to lead the country baseless, adding that the region is replete with sound, committed candidates.
“Who qualifies Atiku to become Nigeria’s president? I laugh at those people with the baseless claim that South-East has no capable candidate. That’s utterly wrong. There are lots of people in the region who have displaced the skill to govern the country. Let them be given the chance.
“We can’t allow some people to mislead the country or treat some as slaves. We must collectively work together to build a country where our children can aspire to any position anywhere. We need to work for unity.
“I made a statement yesterday, and it’s what it is. Any southern politician contesting presidency and making a northerner a deputy is unpatriotic. Such a person isn’t a true southerner. Let’s bury this bigotry and do the needful.”
culled: Ripple Nigeria